editorial (2006-15)

Vote in the Knox County Primary

Don’t let the situation confuse you — here are our endorsements

Vote in the Knox County Primary

Knox County voters have had a lot to wade through to get to the 2006 county elections, and they may not be out of the swamp yet. But there is an urgent need to vote in this primary election, scheduled for May 2, and early voting starts today, Thursday April 13.

The single most compelling reason for every eligible county voter to cast a ballot is the race for county mayor, which will be decided in the primary.

Mike Ragsdale, the mayor for the past four years, deserves a second term in office. His progressive initiatives and his mayoral demeanor have been impressive, and his opponent’s ideas and the ways he presents himself have not. Steve Hall, the city councilman, has been a negative force on Council in his tenure there, and to give him the reins of county government would be to take the county backward at least a decade, probably more.

Ragsdale has shown the ability to pull the city and county together behind programs that will continue to reap benefits for the entire community as long as that spirit of cooperation continues. His opponent would likely derail those cooperative efforts, and his understanding of county issues, responsibilities and services lags woefully behind Ragsdale’s.

County Commission races have become a tangle in the wake of the invocation by the state Supreme Court of the county’s long-delayed term limits amendment. That ruling has cast 12 incumbents to the winds, though their names remain on the ballot.

If those incumbents get the most votes for their seats in their party’s primary, the party itself will convene its executive committee to nominate a candidate to appear on the August general-election ballot.

In most cases, we feel that would be the best available option. More than 20 write-in candidates have qualified to further complicate the races, but we feel that few of those deserve our support. There are exceptions, and we will list those in the following endorsements:

1st District, Seat A — Diane Jordan cannot serve again, but we hope the district electorate votes for her or for Stephen Dupree, who has entered the Democratic primary as a write-in candidate. If Dupree, a regular Metro Pulse columnist, can get more than five percent of the votes cast, he might impress the party enough to put him on the general election ballot.

1st District, Seat B — We endorse Thomas (Tank) Strickland in the Democratic primary. He is eligible for a second term on Commission and has served well there.

2nd District, Seat A — David Collins has been a very effective commissioner who isn’t eligible for another term. The Republican Party will pick a substitute candidate to face Democrat Mark Harmon, if neither is bested by write-ins. Party regulars should vote for Collins and Harmon to insure that the district doesn’t go to a write-in, we believe.

2nd District, Seat B — Billy Tindell, who can’t succeed himself, deserves your vote, so the Democrats can pick an eligible candidate to stave off any write-ins.

3rd District, Seat A — Wanda Moody is term-limited out, but a vote for her in the GOP primary insures the best bet for a good August candidate.

3rd District, Seat B — Ivan Harmon, the unopposed Republican on the ballot, has effectively won a second term.

4th District, Seat A — A vote for term-limited John Schmid will put the decision for an August candidate in the hands of the GOP, where it belongs in this instance.

4th District, Seat B — Likewise, a vote for Phil Guthe turns the decision over to the party.

5th District, Seat A — Michael Hammond can succeed himself, and should. He has attracted no opposition by our presstime.

5th District, Seat B — Craig Leuthold has earned a second term.

5th District, Seat C — A vote for John Griess wisely sends the decision to the Republican Party.

6th District, Seat A — Votes for Mark Cawood will assure that the Republican primary winner has a strong opponent in August.

6th District, Seat B — We have no recommendation or endorsement for Larry Stephens’ vacated seat.

7th District, Seat A — If Mary Lou Horner wins, although she has stopped campaigning and cannot serve again, the GOP gets the choice. A second recommended option is to vote for James McMillan, who is the better of two alternatives to Horner on the ballot.

7th District, Seat B — Incumbent Scott Moore is eligible for a second term as a Republican. The choice is a toss-up between him and Leo Cooper, the former commission chairman. There is not a currently qualified Democrat to oppose the primary winner.

8th District, Seat A — Mike McMillan is term-limited out, but a vote for him puts the general election candidate up to the Republicans.

8th District, Seat B — Likewise, John Mills can’t succeed himself, but the GOP will decide on the candidate if he gains the votes.

9th District, Seat A — Larry Clark is out, thankfully, and we hope the Republicans come up with a good candidate, since there is no Democrat on the August ballot.

9th District, Seat B — David Kiger has emerged as the best Republican choice for South Knoxville, with views that could take the community forward. We urge South Knoxvillians to vote for him in the primary.

Metro Pulse makes no recommendations in the May primary for the other county offices, judgeships or clerkships, but we may return to some of those offices to endorse candidates in the general election.

The important thing for voters is not to disregard this primary, though the court rulings have left it in turmoil.

Vote, please, both in the primary and in August. Your choices will determine the county’s future.